The Pennsylvania Constitution says a governor needs a lieutenant governor. That notion is once again up for debate.
One bill pending in Harrisburg would abolish the office. Another would allow candidates who win their party’s nomination for governor to select their own running mate. Two more bills call for referendums asking voters whether Pennsylvania should keep the lieutenant governor’s office, which costs the state about $1.7 million per year.
Meanwhile, we’re stuck with the office and voters must choose from among five Democrats and four Republicans seeking their party’s nomination in the May 15 primary.
Lt. Gov. Mike Stack III is in a competitive Democratic primary, vulnerable because Gov. Wolf publicly rebuked him last year for verbal abuse he and his wife inflicted on state troopers who protected them and staffers who served them.
Stack, a former state senator and Philadelphia ward leader, pitches himself as a candidate who helped Wolf win in 2014, and who can do that again.
But the incumbent’s issues suggest a change is needed, and JOHN FETTERMAN, mayor of Braddock in Allegheny County, is the best Democratic candidate to fill that need. Fetterman has established the can-do credentials to make a difference in an office that is too often irrelevant to what is happening in Harrisburg.
Fetterman, perhaps best known for his failed 2016 bid for the U.S. Senate, has made a name for himself by trying to revive an old steel mill town down on its luck. Wolf is staying out of this fight, neither endorsing Stack nor pushing any other candidate. But that in itself says a lot.
On the Republican side of the ballot, JEFF BARTOS, a lawyer and real estate executive from Lower Merion, is the best choice for that party’s nomination.
Bartos, who has teamed with State Sen. Scott Wagner, a York County Republican running for governor, casts himself as the wonky partner to Wagner’s rousing populism. His familiarity with issues facing Pennsylvania suggests Bartos, who briefly ran for the Senate last year, would do a fine job in statewide office with or without Wagner.